BP360 is Back! One low price for a: BP subscription, 2022 Annual, 2022 Futures Guide, choice of shirt

Welcome to the starting pitcher planner, where every Friday I’ll be taking a look at the pitchers slated for two turns in the upcoming week. The hope is that the planner can help guide lineup and FAAB decisions that need to be made over the weekend. Of course, my information isn’t perfect and I don’t have a crystal ball. Rain, injuries, and teams reshuffling between when I write and Monday’s first pitch will definitely happen. If new information comes to light after we publish, I’ll try to tackle it in the comments. Feel free to beat me to it if you have any info, and I’ll be glad to offer my opinion there if you want it.

Let’s get some ground rules out the way before getting started. The pitchers will be split by league and then by category. Here are some general thoughts about the categories:

Auto-Starts: You paid a big price for these guys, either with an early draft pick, high dollar auction bid, or significant haul of prospects or MLB talent. These are the top 20 or so starters in baseball, so you’re starting them anywhere, anytime. Guys can pitch their way on to or fall off of this list as the season evolves. There won’t be many notes associated with this group, unless a player has just moved up or is in imminent danger of moving down.

Starts: These are the pitchers I’m recommending you give the ball to this week. Some will be obvious, though not quite auto-start excellent. Others will be lesser talents who find themselves with a pair of favorable outings that you can take advantage of.

Considers: These guys will be on the fence and your league settings and position in the standings will play a big role in your decision. A pitcher in this category can be an SP2 or SP3 with a tough week of matchups. Conversely, he could be a team’s number five who happens to be lined up against a couple basement dwellers. Your particular league context carries the day here; if you are in a 10-team mixed league you probably don’t need to take the risk, but a 10-team AL-only leaguer might see it as a nice opportunity to log some quality innings from a freely available resource.

Sits: These are the guys I’m staying away from this week. They will range in talent from solid to poor. With mixed leagues smaller than 16 teams my default position for all two-start pitchers who rank outside of the top 60 or so is to sit them unless the matchups dictate otherwise. Additionally, mid-rotation starters who face a couple tough draws will find themselves in this category more often than not.


It’s not clear who the Nationals will use on Tuesday. Whoever it is could get next Sunday’s start too. A.J. Cole will be on regular rest and is coming off an impressive performance in Triple-A. There’s also been some reporting that Reynaldo Lopez could come up Saturday, in which case Max Scherzer should get two next week.


Noah Syndergaard



Anthony DeSclafani


Jason Hammel


Kenta Maeda


DeSclafani’s 3.11 ERA and 1.22 WHIP obscure the risk in a pitcher whose advanced stats don’t quite support those surface stats. Additionally, he rarely pitches more than six frames and his bullpen is likely to blow any lead they get handed. Sounds like a good play. This is the third consecutive week Hammel has appeared in the column. A Brian Matusz spot start and a rotation shuffle to get Lackey on regular rest bumped him off two-start weeks in the two prior. What’ll it be this time? Maeda has made a living on infield flies but hasn’t induced a pop-up in any of his past four starts. That’s something to watch, but not enough to knock him out of an obvious Start call.


Bartolo Colon


Gio Gonzalez


Tom Koehler


Matt Moore


David Phelps


Robbie Ray


Jeff Samardzija


Vince Velasquez


In his last seven starts, Colon has given up zero or one runs four times and five or more runs thrice. There aren’t enough strikeouts to take the variance risk in shallow formats. Gio’s been far better in July and August (3.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) than he was in May and June (6.11 ERA, 1.54 WHIP). That’s not enough reason to start him in Coors unless you’re chasing wins and can take the hit elsewhere. Koehler is barely on the outside of the top-ten among starting pitchers over the past 30 days according to ESPN’s player rater. On the other hand, he’s still Tom Koehler and both of next week’s turns come on the road, where he’s been far worse than he’s been in Miami. Moore has pitched 12 innings as a Giant and walked 11 batters, raising his seasonal walk rate by more than a percentage point in the process. I get the logic behind valuing him more highly after the trade: better league, better team, better defense, better park. To me, Moore is still just a guy you use when the matchups are right. There’s a 48-start sample from 2013 to 2015 that suggests Phelps should be a clear Sit. Nevertheless, I’m intrigued by his two August starts. His velocity is way up in 2016 and so is his strikeout rate. Phelps utilizes a legitimate five-pitch mix and with the Marlins looking to limit Jose Fernandez’s innings down the stretch, Phelps is a sneaky late-season add. Are you in need of strikeouts and have no regard for your ratios? Ray’s your man. I couldn’t be less enthusiastic about Samardzija. I’m not even sure he belongs here at this point. After a nine run implosion this week, Velasquez’s 16-strikeout game in early April feels like an awfully long time ago.


Chase Anderson


Joel De La Cruz


Jorge De La Rosa


Christian Friedrich


Edwin Jackson


Braden Shipley


Ryan Vogelsong



Nathan Eovaldi left his start on Wednesday with elbow trouble and seems unlikely to make his next scheduled start even if he escapes a major injury. The Yankees’ rotation was short a man prior to that, so it’s difficult to read how it will line up next week at this point.


Danny Duffy


Corey Kluber


Jose Quintana


Danny Duffy, auto-start. I’m not exactly sure how we got here, but he has a 2.95 ERA as a starter that’s mostly supported by a 3.41 FIP. Combine that with a sub-1.00 WHIP, a 111-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 97 1/3 innings, and start-to-start consistency and you have a borderline SP1.


Ervin Santana


Justin Verlander


It’s been nearly two calendar months since Santana surrendered more than three earned runs in a start. He’s not the most elegant option, but he’ll do. Meanwhile, Verlander hasn’t given up more than two earned in a start since the last week of June, a dominant stretch in which he’s recorded a 1.78 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 28.5 percent strikeout rate. He’d be an auto-start if it weren’t for the occasional blow-up.


Felix Hernandez


Ian Kennedy


Dallas Keuchel


Drew Smyly


Steven Wright


This is the King’s first two-start week since returning from the disabled list. It gives me the sads to put him way down here. Kennedy has only given up one bomb in his past four starts, yet still has the second highest HR/9 among pitchers who have thrown 100 innings. The Tigers and Twins both rank among the top 10 in homers hit over the past month. Keuchel’s been solid for the better part of the summer, but following up a three-hit shutout over the weekend with a couple poor innings luckily wiped away by rain is a nice encapsulation of his Jekkyl and Hyde season. Smyly’s enjoying a resurgence of sorts after an extended brutal stretch. He’s far better at home and therefore a solid play next week. Wright’s two-start week is in jeopardy after he injured his shoulder pinch running and was subsequently scratched from his last start. I’m not too keen on him against these two clubs anyhow.


Jhoulys Chacin


Ross Detwiler


Yovani Gallardo


Wade LeBlanc


Ricky Nolasco


Daniel Norris


Martin Perez


Josh Tomlin


Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
I believe Tom Koehler will now pitch this Sunday losing his 2 start week. (I had already picked him up for the week.)
And as a result, Fernandez is being pushed back until Monday or Tuesday, which means he'll probably be a 2-start pitcher next week.
The Marlins haven't yet announced who will go on Tuesday and how that will affect the rotation the rest of the week. Either way, Phelps is going on Monday and should get two starts since the Marlins play seven games this week.
Should Finnegan be listed? Looks like two home starts against Marlins and Dodgers.
Yep, you're right. Finnegan threw six scoreless innings in two of his past three, but I'm just not a fan and he's an easy Sit for me.
Would Phelps increase in velo and K/rate be more of a function of his pitching in relief most of the year? Has that carried over in the 2 starts he's made this month?
It's a good question and one I made sure to answer before including that tidbit in the column. The answer is yes, Phelps carried over the velocity spike as a starter. Average 4-seam velocity in the two starts was 94.36 and 95.05 MPH, sandwiching his seasonal average of 94.78 and well above his past averages of around 91. Time will tell if he can keep it up as he gets stretched out.